The Dragon and the Beast
John's vision continues. The scene is the earth: the characters are the dragon and the beast, and the people who worshipped them. We have already discovered that the dragon is Satan (Adversary or Enemy) otherwise known as the devil (slanderer or accuser), who has been thrown out of heaven and now operates on earth (Revelation 12:7-9). The beast may be a powerful individual or global authority (Revelation 17:11), or a coalition of powers - depicted by ten crowned horns and seven heads marked with a name which mocks and defames Jesus Christ. The beast has 'dragon' characteristics (Revelation 12:3), is the same as the 'little horn' of Daniel 7:8 and is probably the 'man of lawlessness' of 2 Thessalonians 2:1-12, and the Antichrist of 1 John 2:18.
This demonically inspired Antichrist (an alternative to Christ) authority is seen coming out of the sea of political instability, like the four beasts of Daniel 7:2-7. Those beasts represented world empires of Babylonia, Medo-Persia, Greece and Rome. The beast in our passage is a mixture of the animals of Daniel Ch 7, but more powerful. It is the embodiment of evil which will rule the earth. One of the heads of this beast has a near fatal wound but is now back in full force to fight against all that Jesus stands for. It is the alternative god who demands to be worshipped.
The success of the beast's oppressive deception is obvious, because the world (not including those faithful to Jesus) are in awe of it and see it as the solution to all the world's problems. There is no qualm about agreeing that the beast is right, and also worshipping Satan whose spiritual authority over this monstrous rule is obvious. The global population feel, falsely, that their safety is guaranteed by the beast, and so they commit themselves to serve under its authority.
This is a terrible picture of a future evil world domination which presents itself as supreme and unstoppable. The global force of evil masquerades as the world's 'saviour' (2 Corinthians 11:13-15). Like most successful dictators, people are mesmerised by its power and submit to what they think will be the ultimate world order. When this beast arrives the world will be excited, but the church will come under extreme persecution (Revelation 13:10), until Jesus Christ comes to deal with the evil mess. Until then, what is the message for us today? Do not be surprised when the world appears to unite for the sake of peace, but coerces believers to accept values which God detests. In many little ways that is happening already as Jesus predicted (John 16:1-4). Many societies, including those which were once Christian, are establishing a social order which ensures that Jesus is not Lord, and God's Word is not the basis of their community. When that is your experience, hold firm to Jesus. There is no other real security or eternal hope (John 6:68).
© Dr Paul Adams